BRECKSVILLE, Ohio — We were all wide-eyed as Artemis I roared into space last November.
But a select group of girls had reason to be even more excited.
"I saw it go up and was like, 'Oh, my gosh! My badge is there!'" said Evalina Dostal of Brecksville.
Northeast Ohio Girl Scouts Evalina Dostal, Mary Rose Geiser and Clara Walsh were among 90 winners of a national NASA essay contest and the prize was a Space Science badge that actually orbited the Moon on Artemis I.
The received their badges at NASA Glenn Thursday.
"The girls were challenged to write about their role in the future of space exploration. And we were very excited to learn that three of the national winners were right here in the Cleveland area," said Catherine Graves, who is with NASA Glenn's Office of STEM management.
Writing prompts varied by age group. Geiser, the youngest winner of the three, was asked what she would bring with her to space.
The answer, easy: "I would bring my stuffed puppy because she helps me sleep and she'd like the view from space. And I heard that sleep is really important in space for some reason. I forgot why," Geiser shared.
Dostal has dreams of space exploration too, even beyond Mars. "I said I would go to Saturn, because I could jump on its rings, dance and roll down its craters," she said.
The ceremony wasn't just for the three scouts who won. Each brought along their respective troop for a tour and to take part in hands-on engineering design activities and to meet some of NASA's world class researchers.
"Not only do these girls get to win these patches, but it's so exciting for them to be presented here and to be able to come onto this property and have this unique opportunity to see what's beyond those gates," said Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio CEO Jane Christyson.
"This early exposure to STEM and engineering will hopefully inspire them to one day become engineers and come and work here with us at NASA and take explore space exploration even further," added Graves.
Avon 7th grader Clara Walsh already sees herself on that track. She got up in the middle of the night to see Artemis I launch last November. She also checks NASA's website every day.
"I want to be an engineer for NASA because I'm super into science and space," Clara says.
Her winning essay focused on building a colony on a different planet, and the values she would instill to make it thrive.
"My answer was that I would want people to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, caring, and brave in case aliens are real and they decide to pay us a visit," Walsh said.
No doubt the Girl Scouts will be enthusiastically following developments in the next Artemis flight. When it does blast into space, former Girl Scout Christina Koch will be on board, ready to orbit the moon.